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18 September 2006


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I have an ARC copy too, and I read the back and was pissed that they gave away the characters' identities. I've been putting off reading it because of this.

Too bad, it has such an awesome cover.

Fuse #8

I too have had this puppy in my pile for some time. I really hoped it would be worth the cover, but your review has eased my heart on the matter. Off I go to read better stuff.


That irritated me about the back cover, too. I hope it didn't end up on the finished product. I can see where they'd think it would boost sales -- it probably will -- but a little HINT would have been better than flat-out TELLING the reader who they are.

Keep in mind though, that some people really loved it.


Yep, I'm in the "love it" camp - especially for boys who might be a bit on the reluctant side when it comes to reading bigger books. I have the book reviewed in my current column at Bookslut if you want an alternate opinion. (And Leila and I are very good at agreeing to disagree - combined we give you the most well rounded opinion possible! ha!)

They actually gave away the identities in the catalog which really surprised me. I've emailed with the author and James had no idea they were going to do that (which is why he saved it until the end). But the marketing folks decided it would be a good hook. I think they were very wrong on that idea, but too late to change it.

I do understand that James did a bunch of research in writing the book (on the real lives of the principles) and from what he dug up I've become rather curious about their real lives. I did love the one surprise reveal at the end - I honestly had not seen that one coming at all. Oh - also he has finished the sequel and maybe that will iron out some of the dialog concerns, Leila.

James A. Owen

Hi Leila -

Sorry you didn't like the dialogue - everyone's got their own tastes! The second book is certainly slower to start, and actually deals more with characterization than plot (although there's plenty of plot). But I don't know that the dialogue is all that different... :(

And yes - for the reasons cited, I didn't want ANYONE to know who they were reading about until the last pages (in disagreement with my editor, who wanted it on the front cover!) I wanted people to read it for itself, first - and not have them wondering about the characters' real identities. (Although I don't touch it often - in the next book, they remain John, Jack, and Charles - the last names are never addressed again.)

And no, it's NOT on the back of the finished book! (Thank God.)

Hope you liked the pictures, at least!


I hate it when a good idea is written badly. It's always disappointing.

I do really, really, really love the cover picture. The sea monster dragon thing is adorable.


As James hinted in his post the final edition is illustrated, unlike the ARCs. I've seen some of the pics on his site - they are fantastic and will really add to the story for those reluctant readers.


My copy is illustrated, and I did really like them -- Josh asked me to mention that he ESPECIALLY liked the Aven picture -- and they fit so well with the story.

Colleen, I TOTALLY didn't see that one coming -- because of that specific character's first description, I'd assumed that the character was originally from the Imaginary Lands. And it did definitely occur to me that the author must have done a ton of research ahead of time.

James, I'm so glad that you won out about the names on the back cover! (Though I do understand why your editor would want to use them as a hook, too.) Good luck with it. (And the following books, too.)


I have to say I was disappointed by this book. The idea had soo much potential, which I don't think was realized.

The whole time I was reading it, I just kept thinking of things he should have done.

They may have taken the names of the characters off the back of the book, but all the publicity for it mentioned who they were.

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